Beyond formation classes, another type of learning (no less vital) enjoys a privileged place in the novitiate, what we might term "on-the-job training." The novitiate sisters learn (or improve upon) various skills, from cooking to gardening, sewing, soap making, rosary making and even wood carving. As our Constitutions states, "the sisters are taught those crafts and technical skills which are best suited to the needs of the life in the monastery" (LCM 119; IV).
Most of the skills are acquired in the time-honored monastic manner, by being taught and passed on by our sisters. A few are self-taught. Others may require the expertise of outside professionals, such as learning musical instruments, especially those used at the liturgy. At present, we are blessed to have two junior organists, Sr. Mary Veronica and Sr. Mary Cecilia, who take weekly lessons from a local teacher. Both alternate playing the organ at Terce (Mid-morning Prayer) and Sext (Midday Prayer). It is gratifying to see (and hear) them at the organ, whether they are playing or practicing. As any nun will tell you, organists are highly prized members of the community.
The other musical instrument used in our liturgical prayer is the autoharp (a chorded zither), which accompanies our chanting of the psalms at Lauds, Office of Readings and Vespers. We are pleased to announce that Sr. Mary Jacinta has recently joined the ranks of our autoharpists. Sr. Maria Teresa has helped Sister learn the instrument, which she plays with a certain Caribbean flair! Please pray for our young liturgical musicians, that the Lord may increase their skill and mastery!
"The solemn celebration of the liturgy is the heart of our whole life and the chief source of its unity" (LCM 75). Visitors to our monastery (whether friars, nuns or laypeople) have always commented on the beauty and reverence of our liturgy. May the Lord grant that we may continue to sing His praises, making joyful music to Him with all our skill.